My plans of spending the long Memorial Day weekend visiting Harper’s Ferry were scrapped by a forecast promising three straight days of rain.
Not exactly hiking weather.
So with help from my Dad, we moved to plan B, which was to tackle the most imposing item on my 2021 to do list: replacing the floors in my kitchen, bathroom, and entryway.
Three days, three floors. If HGTV could do it, so could we.
It was slow and exacting work, but over the next three days we laid down all three floors without once uttering the do-it-yourselfer’s ultimate curse word:
The new flooring looked great.
But you know I wouldn’t be writing about this project if things had gone without a single hitch.
This isn’t that kind of blog.
The bathroom toilet.
It came off easy enough. But getting it back on?
Whole ‘nother story.
If you’ve never installed a toilet, there are two bolts on the floor that stick up in the air. You put down a wax ring, and then place the toilet on top of the wax ring, making sure the bolts go through the holes on each side of the toilet.
Yes, but it requires maddening precision. You can’t get it close and then readjust, because the wax seal that prevents leaking will be broken.
Anticipating this, we bought three wax seals.
We had a lethal combination of weaknesses. I could lift the toilet, but I wasn’t strong enough to hold it while my Dad searched for the bolt, which he had trouble seeing. This was due partially to the fact that his eyes aren’t as young as they used to be, and the toilet is stuck back in a corner where it’s hard to get good light in.
I’d strain to hold the toilet while he searched, until I either dropped it or we put it down in the wrong position.
After ruining two wax seals, we stopped to rest and strategize.
We decided to lighten the load by taking the toilet apart. Unbeknownst to me, a toilet comes in two pieces—the bowl and the tank. If we could remove the tank it would hopefully lighten the load enough for me and make it easier for my Dad to see the bolts.
One look and we realized this was hopeless—the bolts were rusted out and there was no way we’d ever get that toilet back together without it leaking.
We were stuck.
Until I said, “Why don’t we just buy a new toilet?”
“A new toilet?”
“A new one will be in two pieces.”
And just like that we were off to Lowe’s for the second time that day. Halfway there, we reconsidered.
“Is this crazy?” my Dad asked. “To buy a brand-new toilet?”
I stopped to think it over.
“We’re not buying a toilet,” I finally said. “We’re buying next weekend. Because if we keep on this way, this project will drag on beyond today.”
We were deep into the third day of the job. We were satisfied with our work thus far but exhausted and ready to be finished. I was willing to pay the price of a new toilet to be able to spend my next weekend doing something fun instead of finishing up this project.
We nodded to one another and kept on driving.
“What kind of toilet are you looking for?” the Lowe’s employee asked, getting ready to show us high efficiency, luxury, or budget options.
“The lightest one you have,” I said.
“You heard me.”
We went down the aisles, not even looking at the floor models, but instead turning the boxes around to find the weights. We found the lightest toilet they had and loaded it up.
Back at home, I dug some paint out of the garage and painted the tops of the bolts yellow for extra visibility. We lifted the bowl of the new toilet and got that baby on in one try.
We bolted on the tank, hooked it up, and flushed it a dozen times without a single leak and smiled.
Next weekend was safe.
Next weekend, of course, is now this weekend, the nicest one we’ve had all year.
I spent it rowing, having coffee with friends, then dinner with other friends. I plan to spend today lounging around with a good book or maybe I’ll hit up the Pittsburgh Arts Fest.
This weekend was worth the price.
And I even got a new toilet out of the deal.